Welcome back the the weekly “What I’m Reading” and “Inside Medicine Week-In-Review.” In this weekly feature, I share articles I’ve read in the last week in other publications which taught me something important, made me think deeply about something in a new way, covered something I would have liked to have written about (but have not yet had time), or I just thought you’d enjoy or find interesting. Plus, this URL also contains links (a one-stop shop) to everything I’ve covered in Inside Medicine this week, in case you missed it!
What I’m Reading:
These are items written elsewhere that I found important and interesting (note: some may be paywalled or require free registration):
Was Havana Syndrome real? Maybe. There’s no doubt people in the US foreign services reported symptoms of something at various times. The question is whether any of these cases were linked and if so, what caused them. There’s no evidence that these cases were connected, nor if they’re even the same problem. Now, yet another government report has concluded that these conditions were very unlikely to have been caused by some nefarious foreign attack. (The absurd microwave theory is finally off the table?) The New York Times.
A previous fascinating piece by my colleague Dr. Adam Gaffney explores this further (New York Magazine).
Adding flu to at-home testing. The idea that we can know when we are contagious with a virus is powerful. It tells us how long we need to keep away from others. Covid-19 rapid antigen tests made this a “normal” thing to do. Now a combined influenza-Covid at-home test has been approved. If scientists could add RSV to that, that would be even better. But testing for flu and Covid is progress. The problem is that the company that got the FDA go-ahead is bankrupt. STAT News.
Meet the nation’s #1 prescriber of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Remember that doctor in Texas who said Covid-19 was caused by demon sperm? The one that Trump retweeted? Turns out she is also apparently the nation’s leading prescriber of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin: Dr. Stella Immanuel.
“In 2021, Immanuel wrote just over 69,000 prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine -- vastly above the average of 43 prescriptions in the database MedPage Today reviewed. Rheumatologists, who prescribe hydroxychloroquine for autoimmune diseases, wrote 561 hydroxychloroquine prescriptions, on average, that year. Immanuel also wrote almost 32,000 prescriptions for ivermectin in 2021, well above the average of 15.”
Do the math. It’s hard to imagine that Dr. Immanuel could have seen that many patients. This leaves open some questions on how such numbers would even be possible. Medpage Today.
Tweet of the week:
(Yes, I’m still on Twitter, so you don’t have to be):
I really like this tweet. Dr. Uché Blackstock is achieving two things at once. First, she’s raising awareness about age-specific cancer screening by walking the walk. Second, her tweet (and couple more that followed) were nuanced about risk. Not everyone needs the same test at the same age. Some people need a colonoscopy at age 45, and others can do what she did (a stool test). Some people need a mammogram before age 50, and others do not. I appreciated that Dr. Blackstock was promoting conversations between doctors and patients, not a “one-size fits all” or “more is always better” approach.
Inside Medicine Week In Review:
This is meant to be a convenient way to find what we've covered this week (in case you missed anything or never got around to reading something you’d flagged). Here’s this week’s Inside Medicine entries. Please “like” and share them!
Sunday: Voices: Q&A with White House Covid-19 czar Dr. Ashish Jha.
Monday: Data Snapshot: The 2022 Mpox outbreak in review. Top ten nations by cases and deaths per capita.
Tuesday: Beyond the pandemic origins debate. (Cross-post by Dr. Caitlin Rivers).
Wednesday: Travel notes: Why visitors matter to hospitalized patients. (Or, why it was good for me to be around when Dad got appendicitis).
Thursday: Field Notes: The most amazing thing I ever saw in medicine. (Inside the operating room during a face transplant).
Friday: Norm Macdonald had it right on how we talk about cancer. (So did Barbara Ehrenreich).
My weekly appreciation to you:
Thanks for liking and sharing the newsletter every day! That helps the content here gain further reach. And, as always, a special thanks to the upgraded subscribers who make such great comments. Increasingly, that’s the pulse of this newsletter, and I hope to see the community continue to grow so that the conversations can be even more robust.
Also, let me know if you have topics you’d like me to cover.
Have a great Saturday!
The twitter photo brought up a current issue that I'm struggling with: the ending of masking in health care settings. A few states--Massachusetts--still have guidance, the rest are tying masking to case rates/transmission levels per CDC guidance, which are a vast undercount and not a reliable indication of risk and circulating virus. Can you address this in a future post? In my opinion, healthcare settings should err on the side of caution, especially hospitals, where in patients are confined to a bed without the ability to protect themselves.
Thank you for the Dr. Grassley link and the citation to Bartholomew et al. therein. I learned as a University behavorial sciences freshman that association is not causation particularly emotional association.